song (n.)

"musical or rhythmic vocal utterance," Old English sang "voice, vocal music, song, art of singing; metrical composition adapted for singing, psalm, poem," from Proto-Germanic *songwho- (source also of Old Norse söngr, Norwegian song, Swedish sång, Old Saxon, Danish, Old Frisian, Old High German, German sang, Middle Dutch sanc, Dutch zang, Gothic saggws), from PIE *songwh-o- "singing, song," from *sengwh- "to sing, make an incantation" (see sing (v.)).

Of the musical call of some birds from late Old English. Middle English had songly "worthy of song" (mid-14c.). The colloquial phrase for a song "for a trifle, for little or nothing" is from "All's Well" III.ii.9 (the identical image, por du son, is in Old French). With a song in (one's) heart "feeling joy" is attested by 1930 in Lorenz Hart's lyric. Song and dance as a form of stage act is attested from 1872; the figurative sense of "rigmarole" is by 1895.

updated on March 12, 2023